4 Ways to Get Volunteers Addicted to Youth Ministry

By Frank Newburn June 28, 2016


People often say it takes a village to raise a child. That is also true in youth ministry. As any good youth worker knows, in order to lead a successful youth ministry we need the cooperation of parents and adult volunteers.

I love my adult volunteers. They are some of the most compassionate, dependable, loving, committed people I know, and they love our students with all they have. They are also some of my best friends. We have a great retention rate for our adult leaders, so our students know these leaders are committed to them and the ministry. This also allows deeper relationships to form between my students and my leaders.

Here are four simple ways to not only keep great adult leaders around, but more importantly, to help them grow in their role and in their walk with God.

1) Intentional Time and Mentoring

You probably want your adult leaders to pour into your students and help them grow in their understanding of God. Do the same for your volunteers. Spend time with them, find out where they are in their walk with the Lord, and help them take the next step on that journey. Mentor them as they mentor your students. I try to meet with my male adult leaders on a regular basis over coffee or a meal, and my female assistant meets with our lady leaders. We talk about life, spiritual matters, and ministry. Then I challenge and encourage them in their spiritual walks. This shows your leaders that you are interested in them as people. They are more than your helpers in ministry; they are your brothers and sisters in Christ.

2) Meaningful Meetings

It’s important to bring your adult leaders together on a regular basis to meet, connect, and make sure everyone is on the same page. The key is to make those meetings worthwhile. Your adults are volunteering their time to be there, so don’t waste that time. In our monthly meetings (it’s helpful if these meetings are consistent in time and place), we do a variety of things.

“Adult volunteers are more than your helpers in youth ministry; they are your brothers and sisters in Christ.”

Based on a rotation, someone brings in a dessert or snack of some kind because, come on, we are in youth ministry and love food! We start by hanging out and eating snacks, and then we go over the coming month’s events. After that someone shares their faith story. This gives the adults practice sharing their story and allows us to get to know each other on a deeper level. We then study a passage of Scripture together and rotate who facilitates the discussion. I get a glimpse into their teaching styles, and we learn together. It becomes a small group for our youth ministry leaders. We take time to share prayer requests for ourselves and our students and check in with each small group so leaders can discuss how best to tackle challenges in their small groups. We end by allowing time for co-leaders to talk about upcoming lessons and to plan for the next month of small groups. The two hours we spend together once a month makes a huge difference for our leaders and our ministry.

3) Show Them They Matter

Everyone wants to know their efforts are appreciated. Your volunteers take valuable time away from their jobs, families, and friends to spend pour into your students. Make sure they know how much you appreciate it. For our December meeting near Christmas, I provide a nice, catered meal for them. My assistant and I write each volunteer a personal Christmas card and send them a gift card to a local restaurant or store. During the year, we also send notes of encouragement to show our appreciation. These small tokens of love and gratitude can go a long way towards affirming your leaders and letting them know you care about them.

4) Have Fun

Just as you encourage your adults to have fun with your students outside of scheduled youth ministry events, do the same with your leaders. Plan events several times a year just for fun and fellowship. We have taken our leaders bowling, to movies, to progressive dinners, and more. These common experiences deepen friendships and unite your leaders as one family.

There are certainly more ways to build up your adult leaders, but the important thing is to take time to invest in those who are investing in your students. Find consistent ways to show your adult volunteers how much you appreciate them. Help them grow in their walks with God. You will create a family of believers who are committed to your students and to one another for the long haul.

About the Author

Frank Newburn

Frank Newburn is a husband and father of three and currently serves as the Generations Pastor at Declaration Church in Spring, Texas. Before that Frank was the youth director for Wesley United Methodist Church in Bloomington, Illinois for 13 years. Frank has also worked for LeaderTreks as a Leadership Specialist and Trip Leader. His ministry…  Read More